Arby’s kicks off turf war with McDonald’s over fish sandwiches for Lent season

In recent days, Arby’s started to quietly target McDonald’s by responding to consumer complaints about the Filet-O-Fish on Twitter and offering a free Arby’s sandwich to make it right.

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The Crispy Fish Sandwich (left) and the new Fish n’ Cheddar Sandwich are available at Arby’s.

The Crispy Fish Sandwich (left) and the new Fish n’ Cheddar Sandwich are available at Arby’s.

Arby’s/Inspire Brands

Arby’s has the meats, but it’s diving deeper into the surf.

After lastyear’sChicken Sandwich Warand before Lent, Arby’s firedthe first salvo Sunday in a high-stakesbattle over who has the best fish sandwich.

Welcome to theFish Sandwich War of 2020.

The chain famous for its roast beef sandwichesistrollingMcDonald’s Filet-O-Fishwith a new campaign tied toits limited-time Crispy Fish Sandwich and the new Fish n’ Cheddar Sandwich, Arby’sofficials shared exclusively with USA TODAY.

“Fish is meat, too;it’s just ocean meat,” said Deborah von Kutzleben, Arby’s vice president of advertising, content and core menu. “We felt that it was time to take a different approach,to really have people question Filet-O-Fish— and whether or not it is the best—and take a moment to try ours.”

If you are McDonald’s, those are fighting words.

The Arby’s campaign doesn’t stop there. Arby’s pokes fun at the size and square shape of McDonald’s fish sandwich ina series of commercials that began running on TV andsocial media on Sunday. Inone brief ad for YouTube, Arby’s urges,”Stop eating Filet-O-Fishes. Eat Arby’s Crispy Fishes.”

Fast-food restaurants often troll the competition on social media and in their special promotions to get attention.

A week afterPopeyes’ debut of its New Orleans-style chicken sandwich in August, the chain started a social media frenzywithChick-fil-Aand other restaurants. It was quicklydubbed the Chicken Sandwich War.

In December 2018,Burger King’s viralWhopper Detour dealoffered penny Whoppers for app users near a McDonald’s restaurant,then detoured them to a Burger King.

In recent days, Arby’s started to quietly targetMcDonald’s byresponding to consumer complaints about the Filet-O-Fish on Twitter and offering a free Arby’s sandwich to make it right.

In atweet Feb. 12, Arby’s Guest Support account responded to a customer who said the sandwich was missing the fish patty.”We at Arby’s are truly sorry for this situation and resolving it is very important to us. Do you mind sending us a (direct message)? We want to give you one of our fish sandwiches.”

Select Arby’s near McDonald’s restaurants will add special messages to their outside signs that suggest the emoji with the cowboy hat and fish is better than the fish with clown-like icon that resembles McDonald’s mascot Ronald McDonald.

Unlike Arby’s and other chains that offerseasonal seafood options to their menusfor Lent, a time when many Catholics forgo meat, McDonald’s sandwich is available all year at all U.S. locations.This year, the Lenten Seasonis Feb. 26 through April 11.

In 1965, the Filet-O-Fish was the first addition to McDonald’s original menu and was the only non-hamburger option at the time.McDonald’shas said it’sone of the most popular menu items, especially on the Fridays leading up to Easter.

Arby’s fish sandwich was introduced in 2001 in select restaurants, the company said. It returned to restaurants for a limited time in late December along with the newFish n’ Cheddar that includes a cheddar cheese sauce on top of the fried Alaskan pollock fillet.

“It is trulysomething that we hear our guests love us for, andit’s why we bring it back every year,” von Kutzlebensaid. “We’re really excited to point out to Filet-O-Fish lovers that Arby’s fish sandwiches are something they should definitely try.”

Read more at usatoday.com

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